NYC Cab Drivers Don’t Have to Take an NYC Road Test [Updated]

You can watch the entirety of Thursday’s hearing on Taxi and Limousine Commission Vision Zero rule changes here. Cue to the 41:15 mark in the second video, embedded above, to see TLC board members wonder aloud whether reckless driving is protected by the Constitution, and if it’s really that bad to run over and kill someone while taking a phone call.

But first, other news from yesterday:

  • The TLC previewed two stickers meant to improve cab driver safety. As prescribed by Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan, one will be placed on every taxi windshield to remind drivers when they make turns that “people are crossing.” The second one, which will be optional, is a bumper sticker for cabs that says “Your choices behind the wheel matter.” There was some question as to where on the windshield the first sticker should be placed — Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives testified that it should be on the left, but it seems the TLC, in consultation with DOT, has decided to put them behind rear view mirrors. Regardless, while this is surely a well-intended effort, for cab drivers who are oblivious to actual people in front of their vehicles, you’ve got to question how effective a sticker reminding them to pay attention will be.
  • Speaking of stickers, I took a cab ride a couple of weeks ago and noticed there was no partition sticker reminding passengers to watch for cyclists before opening the rear passenger door. I learned yesterday that these stickers are optional.
  • You can get a TLC license without getting behind the wheel of a cab. “I was floored to learn that cab drivers are not required to do a road test,” said Dana Lerner, Cooper Stock’s mother, during testimony. “How can a professional driver be hired if they have not been adequately tested on the streets of New York City?” TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi addressed other points made by Lerner, but didn’t speak to the road test question, though the Vision Zero Action Plan calls for more extensive driver training. Update: A TLC spokesperson emailed us to point out that in order to get a TLC license, applicants must possess a chauffeur’s license, which is issued by the state DMV and does require a road test.

  • Another new law discussed Thursday combines DMV and TLC license points, and penalizes drivers for their combined total. A hack license will be suspended for six total points, and revoked for 10. White testified that TA objects to TLC policy that will remove driver points for safe driving classes.
  • Some data points revealed yesterday: 79 percent of TLC-licensed drivers were not in a reported collision in 2013 (meaning two in 10 drivers were); fewer than 1 percent of drivers are involved in a critical injury or fatal crash annually; and in 2012, 48 percent of for-hire drivers received DMV or safety-related TLC points on their licenses.
  • The TLC held its first cab driver honor roll ceremony earlier this month, honoring 295 of its 115,000 drivers for having no tickets, injury crashes, or violations of TLC rules (some of which are not safety-related) for five years. Frederick Amoafo of Queens was named the city’s safest hack. Asked for his advice to other cabbies, Amoafo told the Daily News: “Relax. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You only get the money if you get the passengers there safely.”
  • Willy Voet

    This video is absolutely frightening.

  • Willy Voet

    Nora Constance Marino is a lawyer, yet she thinks there is a right to earn a living in the US Constitution.

  • Brian Howald

    I wanted to point out the problems with what Ms. Marino said, then realized that nothing she said was correct.

  • Hilda

    Can you please clarify, as (gasp!) Streetsblog and the Post numbers seem to be different:

    The Post says that 24,000 TLC drivers were in reported collisions last year and that less than 1% of the collisions resulted in critical injury or death (approx. 240)
    Streetsblog states that less than 1% of drivers are involved in a crash resulting in critical injury or death (1,150).

  • Brad Aaron

    TLC factoids from yesterday’s presentation (verbatim):

    • Approximately 115,000 drivers are licensed by the TLC.
    • Approximately 24,000 of these drivers got in any reported crash in 2013.
    • Less than 1 percent of drivers are involved in a crash that results in critical injury or death.

  • c2check

    Nora Marino’s sillly comments about the constitution aside, her and Bhairavi Desai’s notes about the importance of preventative measures through design, user feedback, and education are good, at least.

  • Alex

    Nora Marino’s ignorance and indifference to the life of a child is astounding. To site Cooper’s death before rolling into a tone-deaf, buffoonish tirade about how “accidents happen” and that “people have to make a living” is the epitome of insensitivity. It’s also worth point out that dangerous drivers almost always continue to be dangerous drivers, even after killing or seriously injuring someone. So no, Nora. “Living with the fact that you killed someone” is not punishment enough. Your comments paint you as a heartless monster of a human being and are a perfect example of why a child can be run over and killed with no consequences to anyone, whatsoever. You need to wake up to that.

  • digamma

    The picking up the phone and killing someone part is just after the 49 minute mark.

  • Kevin Love

    It is in the Ninth Amendment…

    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

    Needless to say, I am not entirely serious, but with that kind of loophole…

  • Sean Kelliher

    Since the TLC seems disinterested in ensuring that the public has access to safe taxi rides maybe the free market could assist. Taxi drivers could be issued a letter grade based on their driving history and this grade is displayed on their hood or front windshield (in a way that does not obstruct vision, of course). It would be like the restaurant rating system. Residents could wave off that “B” or “C” grade taxi driver just like they walk by the “B” grade sushi restaurant.

    One other thing – as others have mentioned, Nora Marino’s callousness is appalling. She’s a commissioner, drawing a high salary and responsible for the public’s safety. Have some tact when the mother of a dead boy comes to you to try to prevent this from happening to another family.

  • Glenn

    Who are these people? Makes me never want to ride a cab ever

  • A note on the unnamed TLC spokesman who defensively pointed out “that in order to get a TLC license, applicants must possess a chauffeur’s license, which is issued by the state DMV and does require a road test”.

    From what I can tell from the TLC’s website, a chauffeur’s license does not require a road test, the only road test required when applying is the one applicants took for their regular NYS drivers license.

    So, it seems to me that one can get a license to drive a cab without any additional road experience other than the few minutes spent taking the road test for a regular driver’s license?

  • bob5

    Yep, it’s called Uber, where you can rate your driver.

  • Alicia

    The tag you’re looking for is [i] … [/i] not [ital]

  • Brad Aaron